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Finding my feet (well pedals, or will it be my sea legs?)

Finding my feet (well pedals, or will it be my sea legs?)
Over the past 10 years (10 years, blimey) sport for me has normally taken place on water, and it was one of the reasons I felt compelled to move closer to the sea. Having lived in-land for most of my life and taken to water like a duck in the pool and in kayaks, I had always dreamt of moving closer to the sea and getting away from greyness of the city. I had dreamt of being able to go for day trips in kayaks to hidden beaches and cooking fish caught on a line. Now it’s right on our doorstep. 

On moving next to the sea I have definitely done the above dream and lots more, but more recently, things have funnily changed and my habits have altered to do more land based sport. Maybe it’s just a winter thing or a cross training phase or maybe it’s just more accessible but cycling is the new thing for me at the moment. Where I live, it is only a mile from the sea and the nearest beach, but access for kayaking is pretty difficult and if I’m going to tackle it, it has to be for a long-ish paddle.

From November to January rowing is never really possible with the sea being battered by storms, surfing is possible on bigger days when it is too big at Whitesands but chances are I mostly miss the half an hour when it’s working at my little beach.

I used to not enjoy biking or running, but now it feels like new territory and I can just enjoy being out and in the surroundings. I ride out of my house onto the road for 100 metres then turn into the maze that are the lanes and bridalways close to the coast. 

We meander up and down hills, around fields, around hills, through farms but mostly along lots of lanes which all look the same, it’s a bit of a challenge to keep on going in the right direction, but it’s easy so long as you know where the sea is. 

I get a different feeling when cycling, you don’t have to constantly concentrate on what the water is doing and if there are any hidden currents to watch out for, you can just ride as fast or as slow, or as far as you want, stop and take photos of the view, call into tea spots and have a cuppa. My mind wanders totally into my own playground just taking in the smells in the air, the sights, it all feeds into my mind, overloading it with possibilities, ideas, everything seems possible and I want to do it all now, it is very inspiring and makes me feel like I want to burst.

Recently we went off into the Preseli Mountains, and I was surprised that even though it was tougher with the terrain being so changeable, my mind was still buzzing taking it all in. One minute there were rocks to negotiate through and the next I was trying to pick the best route through a whole series of bogs. Every 100 metres it would change, opening up new valleys and horizons, it was amazing.

I’ve discovered I can wear clip in pedals on this terrain and also that I like going up hills, which is good. 

There’s something about stretching your lungs and letting your legs burn more and more, and I quite like it now.

I have changed my opinion on running too, especially after I was able to run along the coast path with Anja last summer, it’s amazing, you play some music with a beat and you can run to it. You’re heart starts thumping, and you get locked into a rhythm and feel like you can go on and on. Anyway, as much as this is all new, I shall soon be returning to the water, with rowing starting earlier this year, not out on the ocean but on a lake in the Preseli Mountains, even that’s kinda weird… Doing training for sea based gig rowing on a lake?

So for now it’s cycling, running, rowing on a lake and rowing on an indoor rowing machine, but this summer I am aiming to push my surfing on a step, to get stronger and fitter so I can row harder and for longer and to get over my fear of the strong currents in the sea. Life’s too short to be scared or to stick to one sport I reckon.

Melanie Lang